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First-responders' equipment shortage ... Meet Market... Revenge ... More
By Lance Gay
Scripps Howard News Service


March 25, 2005

Washington - Remember those post-9/11 days when politicians rallied around the valiant first-responders, the emergency personnel found they couldn't talk to one another over radio phones because police, fire and other local government agencies broadcast on different frequencies?

Or perhaps you recall the impassioned testimony a year later before the 9/11 Commission. Republicans and Democrats agreed it was a national priority to find the money to properly equip first-responders so such debacles wouldn't happen again.

You don't need to read more to know where this is headed.

Like the Bonus Marchers who descended on Washington to demand bonuses promised for World War I military service, fire and police organizations are washing up on the steps of the Capitol to complain that promised checks never arrived.

The First Responders Coalition, representing 40,000 fire and police organizations, says that fire departments, on average, have only enough radios to equip half the firefighters on a shift, and breathing apparatuses for only one-third.

The police say they never got the protective gear they were promised to secure sites following an attack with weapons of mass destruction and that most cities lack detection equipment to alert them to the danger they face. Fearsome regulations are hindering their efforts to get grants from the Department of Homeland Security, they add.

"That glowing rhetoric has turned into a bitter reality in which the promised funding is not being delivered," protested Bill Fox, commissioner of the Metropolitan Fire Association of New York City.

The Internet "meet market" is being shaken to its lizard boots and gold chains by some companies' efforts to force all online Romeos to be upfront about any felony sex convictions and current marital status.

After pledged to verify the criminal backgrounds of dream dates it accepts for online posting, lawmakers in California, Texas, Virginia and Michigan picked up the cause, proposing blanket truth-in-dating laws for all online dating concerns.

Michael Jones is the president of an online dating software company, Userplane ( He complained that such efforts are legislative overkill. Jones said it's safer for women to find a date online than in a bar and daters can make their own personal decisions.

Jim Barnett, chairman of Vermont's Republican Party, has been nursing his wounds about Sen. Jim Jeffords' 2001 defection from the GOP. "Now it's time for payback," Barnett says. He's launching a fund-raising campaign to scuttle Jeffords' re-election chances next year.

Barnett said Jeffords' decision to switch from Republican to Independent - a "treachery" that gave Democrats control of the Senate for a year _ hasn't been forgotten or forgiven. The GOP now is trying to line up popular Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie as a challenger for the nomination.

The biggest disclosure in CIA papers released this week on Israel's capture of Adolf Eichmann in 1960 is that U.S. spies knew nothing about the Israeli operation until they read about it in the newspapers and also didn't know Eichmann's whereabouts.

The Airline Owners and Pilots Association has removed from its Web site maps informing pilots where U.S. nuclear power plants are located. Group spokesman Chris Dancy said the Department of Homeland Security protested that this amounted to "unclassified but sensitive information" that should not be publicized.

After 9/11, the government warned private pilots not to fly over nuclear power plants, but pilot flight maps don't distinguish nuclear power plants from regular power plants.

(E-mail Lance Gay at GayL(at)

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